Record Bender or Gender Bender: South African Runner Faces Gender Testing

200px-20090819_Caster_SemenyaSouth African Caster Semenya, 18, is facing a rare legal challenge in her sports career. The problem is not drug testing but gender testing. Various people have accused Semenya of being a male and sports officials are planning gender testing to result the dispute.

This week Semenya took gold in the 800m World Athletics Championship in Berlin. Various people insisted that her muscular physique was that of a man. Her mother, however, insists that she is female (here): Mokgadi Caster is a girl and no one can change that.”

I fail to see why there is such suspicions after the run below in Berlin. She seems like a very muscular female to me. I was far more suspicious (and remain suspicious) of the Chinese gymnasts in the age controversy.

It turns out that a gender test is not just watching to see if she can sit through a full performance of “Pride and Prejudice” without fleeing the room. The testing takes several weeks to complete.

Molatelo Malehopo, general manager of Athletics South Africa, insists that she is a she: “We have not been absent-minded, we are very sure of her gender.”

For the full story, click here.

51 thoughts on “Record Bender or Gender Bender: South African Runner Faces Gender Testing”

  1. Pardon Me,

    Thanks for your reply. Yours is one of the types of responses that I had not–but should have–considered.

    This was a classic Beauty v. the Beast contest and I must admit it was rather brutal. However, the stamina and courage it takes to fight with such intensity while bare-footed and without padded gloves and with almost no-holds-barred, unrestrained tactics, is admirable from an athletic standpoint.

    I also admit, I will watch the rematch, if it occurs.

  2. FFLeo-

    Sorry, i could only stomach about a minute of the video.
    i don’t like wrestling, boxing, kicking or the fact that people actually pay to watch others get hurt. IMO, this is inhumane and not so unlike rooster fighting, dog fighting, etc., except for the death part. and the pecking and biting. and the gloves. and endorsements.

    I think women bleed enough already.

  3. MMA = Mixed Martial Arts (I must have had the all-important Marshall Plan on my mind).

    Jill, Pardon Me?, GWLSM et al. any comments about this fight?

  4. Gina (Crush) v. Cyborg. Mixed Marshall Arts (MMA)/Cage Fighting

    There are some paralles between Cyborg and this runner’s story.

    I would expecially appreciate the female perspective on Cyborg.

  5. Christa,

    Very interesting re the SRY gene and models. I had no idea and I wonder how prevalent it is.

  6. I suggest that people read the NYT article to which FFN linked. From the article:
    _________________________________

    “These officials should — finally — come up with a clear set of rules for sex typing, one open to scientific review, one that will allow athletes like Semenya, in the privacy of their own doctors’ offices, to find out, before publicly competing, whether they will be allowed to win in the crazy sport of sex. I bet that’s a sport no one ever told Semenya she would have to play.”
    _________________________________

    This is a very tough call. This person is just 18-years-old and she has always thought of herself as female. Mosaics in chromosomes (chromosomal mosaicism) is a fact of life. When I first learned of this in college biology, there was a standing joke, “How do you tell a girl from a boy?” Look in their *jeans*. However, neither jeans nor genes tell the whole story. Remember also that we all have an abundance of ‘junk genes and junk DNA’.

    Ironically, the young person’s last name is *Semen*-ya

  7. You must be a phenotypically female, XX only, and not possess the SRY gene to be “entirely female” for the majority of athletic competitions.

  8. Foo said:

    Possible controversial combinations:
    1) she has a vagina, but has XY chromosomes (i.e. genetic male)
    2) she has a penis, but has XX chromosomes (i.e. genetic female)
    He/she can also be XXY (Klinfelter syndrome).

    It’s true. Women in these positions may never have known the presence of a Y chromosome in their genome. By the way, XY might not produce a male if the SRY gene is not present on the Y chromosome.
    Many models are XXY, giving them their height and lack of curves.

  9. “The envious man thinks that if his neighbor breaks a leg, he will be able to walk better himself.”

    –Helmut Schoeck

    Maybe he should have added, “or run better,” too.

  10. buddha writes: Ulysses Everett McGill: Well Pete, I figured it should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought. But if that ain’t the consensus view, then hell, let’s put it to a vote.

    “It’s gonna be a veritable age of reason. like the one the had in france.”

  11. foo writes:
    I already have a job at a law firm (thankfully). I’m a PT student.

    excellent then.

  12. GWLSMom & foo,

    In Re: Twisted Minds and Training to Argue All Points

    Delmar said it best . . . .

    Pete: Wait a minute. Who elected you leader of this outfit?

    Ulysses Everett McGill: Well Pete, I figured it should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought. But if that ain’t the consensus view, then hell, let’s put it to a vote.

    Pete: Suits me. I’m voting for yours truly.

    Ulysses Everett McGill: Well I’m voting for yours truly too.

    [Everett and Pete look at Delmar for the deciding vote]

    Delmar O’Donnell: Okay… I’m with you fellas.

  13. Gyges writes: One part of my gender test involves walking in high-heels.

    I tried that once on a dare, and all I can say is that women that wear high-heels work way to hard to impress men and each other.

    personally I hate shoes. all shoes.
    high heels are torture devices.

  14. GLSM,

    One part of my gender test involves walking in high-heels.

    I tried that once on a dare, and all I can say is that women that wear high-heels work way to hard to impress men and each other.

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